Asking big questions about marriage: Rei’s story

Big questions can be scary to navigate in any relationship. Facing them together can allow a strong friendship to emerge.
Big questions can be scary to navigate in any relationship. Facing them together can allow a strong friendship to emerge.

Here’s another story from a reader, about how they transitioned from a legal marriage to refocus on friendship — by asking some pretty big, scary questions.

Stepping back from the top of the Relationship Escalator without severing a strong connection of friendship is still unconventional; the Escalator is still supposed to be strictly a one-way trip, with no pausing or stepping back.

However, I’m glad it seems to be becoming more common for people to find ways to step back from this ride without blowing up their relationship. (I’ve done it, as have readers Colin and Jamie.)

Rei writes:

“Your SoloPoly blog and Relationship Escalator concept have really helped me figure out who I am and how I engage in relationships. This has been a long, complicated and often painful road for me. And I found your blog right at the time — when my core relationship of 10 years was falling to pieces. When I was married, my spouse and I found ourselves always asking these big questions:

  • Why did we get married?
  • What does it mean if we don’t want people to think of us as a “married couple” — and why do we feel that way?
  • Did we even share the same ideas about relationships?
  • Did we want the same kind of relationship?
  • What would it look like if we didn’t? Was there a way forward for us — or was this the wrong way of looking at it?

“We couldn’t figure out the answers.

“Today, we are no longer married. My former spouse and I eventually realized that our relationship ideas were too different to keep on. Fortunately, because of the level of self-exploration we did together, we have been able to remain good friends.

“I also think that things like your blog and stories from other people about different relationship models made our friendly transition possible. We both knew that it wouldn’t work to try to maintain what we had once thought was good. However, seeing that there were more options for building meaningful relationships allowed us to consider the option of being friends, rather than partners in marriage.

“This shift is still somewhat new, but it feels like we’ve reached a good place. In many ways, we always were extremely good friends. The problem was that the Escalator model told us that because of we were such good friends, we needed to get married. Riding the Escalator did a lot of damage to our friendship, and we are in the stages of rebuilding.

“I found myself resonating with so much of what your blog exposes. It’s helped me find grounding in who I am, and reminds me not to accidentally step back on board the Escalator as soon as a relationship holds some promise to become a real connection.

“Also, as a fellow writer, I am drawn to stories. As such, I was thrilled to hear that your book is just that: a collection of stories. Stories are strong and have the ability to open our eyes to truths that we’d rather avoid. Through stories, we can accept things that we wouldn’t accept as “facts” listed on a page. We see the heart of those truths, and that allows us to open ourselves to new ways of approaching the world.

“That being said, your book could help change the damage we do to ourselves through relationship structures that individuals are so often unaware of.

“Thank you for all the work you do and please, please, please keep doing it!”

Thanks so much, Rei. I fully intend to keep doing this work.

I’m excited for the support I’ve received, and I’m working hard with an editor to get my Off the Escalator book shaped up for initial publication this Fall. Subscribers to project updates will receive special discounts and more.

Have you found yourself asking big questions about your marriage or other significant relationships? Please comment below.

Or you can share your story privately. (I publish reader stories only with permission.)

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